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20 Jun 2024

Five steps to creating a family-friendly work culture

Companies can reap vast benefits from implementing simple pro-parenting policies at work.

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How can businesses embed family-friendly policies which can benefit employees and the business?

“Instituting family-friendly measures such as flexible hours, remote work and childcare solutions can reduce staff turnover, improve productivity, and help to attract investment, alongside many other benefits,” according to a report by the World Bank.

Pro-parenting policies introduced by Nordic countries over the past 50 years have boosted gross domestic product (GDP) by an estimated 10 to 20% per capita.

Embedding family-friendly policies

Rosie Leverton, head of corporate partnerships at Tommy’s says, “A truly family-friendly approach should begin in your recruitment and onboarding processes and then seep through in everything you do. It’s about fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable talking to you about their plans to start their family and what support they need, without feeling like they’ll be judged or penalised.

“Policies should focus on inclusion and support for all parents and ensure ongoing conversations and flexibility, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Leverton.

Support needed for mothers returning to work

Research from Totaljobs and the Fawcett Society found there was a gap in support for mothers returning to work after maternity leave. The research also identified the potential impacts on businesses.

Among the key findings were:

  • 84% of mothers reported challenges returning to work following maternity leave
  • 30% said they received no support when returning to work
  • 85% of mothers struggle to find a job that accommodates their childcare needs
  • 19% have considered quitting their role due to a lack of support for parents and 11% have done so
  • 72% of mothers and 66% of all employees said employers who offer family-friendly benefits are more attractive than those who don’t
  • 74% of HR leaders admit they struggle to provide the right support for working mothers

Five top tips for a family-friendly workplace

To deliver family-friendly policies for returning mothers and all parents, Totaljobs and the Fawcett Society suggest five tips:
  1. Foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture. Create a culture that understands the challenges mothers and all parents face and highlights the support available.
  2. Create a clear policy framework. Build policies which allow managers and parents to understand each other’s expectations and the support they have access to, including embedding an effective maternity policy.
  3. Train line managers. Upskill managers to actively listen to the needs of women and parents, ensuring they ask how they would like to receive support and feedback.
  4. Encourage paternity leave. Ensure men take statutory paternity leave to which they are entitled, particularly senior management to lead by example.
  5. Embed flexible working options. Support employees to find flexible working options that work for them and the business. For example, term-time only, part-time, job-sharing, and compressed hours.

Line managers play key role

“Line managers are key to an employee’s pregnancy and parenting journey in the workplace,” said Leverton. “It’s essential they are equipped to initiate open conversations, recognise when someone is struggling and signpost effective support.

“It is a tall order to expect line managers to intuitively know what to do and so it’s your responsibility as their employer to ensure they feel supported in having these complex conversations.”

“Recognising that each employee’s situation is different, and exploring ways to accommodate their needs, will also demonstrate that you care about your employee as a person and that you want to provide the best possible support.”

Bupa’s latest Health Horizons event on family and fertility, explores the need to develop a strategy that supports employees navigating fertility treatment and family planning. To re-watch the event, visit Health Horizons.

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